Tag Archives: Cameron Mitchell

LEO FONG: HIS BEST B-MOVIES

Leo FongThanksgiving week rolls along here at Balladeer’s Blog with this look at some of the most enjoyable – on whatever level – B-movies from the one and only Leo Fong! Leo’s been called a poor man’s Bolo Yeung cross-bred with an even poorer man’s Joe Don Baker … but I was drunk when I called him that, so make of it what you will.

All lovers of Psychotronic filmmaking worship at the altar of Fong and his many action flicks from the 1970s through today are still watchable in a very odd way and will always leave viewers smiling. We may snark away at the abundance of errors and absurdities in Leo’s movies but there’s no denying that a Leo Fong film has more heart and sincerity in it than any corporate blockbuster has in decades. 

Murder in the orientMURDER IN THE ORIENT (1974) – Leo Fong IS Lao Tsu, but not THAT one, in this lethargic treasure quest/ revenge story. Leo (He’s ALWAYS Leo to me no matter what his character is named) learns his sister has been killed by the Golden Cobra crime gang. That gang is after a pair of samurai swords on which Imperial Japanese war criminals serving in World War Two engraved a split map leading to a fortune in stolen gold.  

Leo’s sister was collateral damage in that quest, and her death brings down on the Golden Cobras’ heads the stone-faced revenge of our man Fong and his late sister’s equally deadly boyfriend, Paul Martelli (THE Ron Marchini). All the performers seem like reluctant draftees rounded up and forced to “act” at gunpoint. Even the action sequences reek of half-heartedness in this odd little honey. Continue reading

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NEGLECTED SPAGHETTI WESTERN HEROES

Jeffrey Hunter as The Christmas Kid

Jeffrey Hunter as The Christmas Kid

Frontierado is coming up on Friday August 7th!

In the past Balladeer’s Blog has examined some of the big names among the fictional gunslingers of Spaghetti Westerns. I’ve covered the original Django, Sartana, the Holy Ghost, Dynamite Joe, Harmonica and even Tony Anthony’s character the Stranger. Here are a few of the lesser lights from Eurowesterns.

Christmas Kid 2THE CHRISTMAS KID

Film: The Christmas Kid (1966)

The Story: Jeffrey Hunter portrayed this memorable gunslinger, who got his nickname from the date of his birth, December 25th. His nickname was always bitter-sweet, however, since his mother died giving birth to him on Christmas.

The Kid is a pacifist in fictional Jaspen, AZ during a copper rush. Our hero reluctantly takes up a gun and at first seems like he might be corrupted by the faction led by the crooked town boss (Louis Hayward) but eventually his girlfriend Marie dies as the violence escalates. The Christmas Kid redoubles his efforts against Hayward. Good but not a great film. The Kid deserved more than one screen appearance. Continue reading

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GORILLA AT LARGE (1954) ON THE TEXAS 27 FILM VAULT

Gorilla at LargeBefore MST3K there was … The Texas 27 Film Vault! In the middle 1980’s, way down on Level 31 Randy Clower and Richard Malmos, machine-gun toting Film Vault Technicians First Class hosted this neglected cult show. Balladeer’s Blog continues its celebration of the program’s THIRTIETH  anniversary year.

ORIGINAL BROADCAST DATE: Saturday December 6th, 1986 from 10:30pm to 1:00am. 

Mysterious Doctor SatanSERIAL: Before presenting and mocking Gorilla at Large our machine-gun wielding Film Vault Technicians First Class presented and mocked an episode of Mysterious Doctor Satan, a Republic serial from 1940. The serial featured a mad scientist called Dr Satan trying to take over the world with a very, VERY goofy- looking robot while a pulp-style hero called the Copperhead tried to thwart his plans.  

FILM VAULT LORE: This time around the movie ticket give-away from Channel 27 (the “27” in The Texas 27 Film Vault) was for a chance to go see the 1986 release King Kong Lives.

Richard Malmos left) and Randy Clower relaxing between takes on the set of The Texas 27 Film Vault.

Richard Malmos (left) and Randy Clower relaxing between takes on the set of The Texas 27 Film Vault.

HOST SEGMENTS: Gorilla at Large was one of the 3-D films from the 1950’s, and those are always funny and campy as hell, especially in the scenes with objects unnecessarily coming at the camera. The fun Randy and Richard had riffing on 3-D glasses and the whole 3-D phenomenon of the 50’s (and its 80’s revival) seems to have kicked off with this episode. In later episodes we’d get their “3-D interview” with Ben Johnson, a showing of Friday the 13th Part 3-D and even The Texas 27 Film Vault 3-D poster drawn by THE Kerry Gammil. Gorilla at Large is one of the movies represented on that poster.   

Gorilla at Large 3THE MOVIE: Gorilla at Large provided a wealth of material for Randy and Richard to work with. Remember, their previous show had been The Trivia Guys and this film about a murderous gorilla at a circus was packed with opportunities for pop culture shoutouts. To cite just a few:

* George Barrows, the man in the gorilla suit as our title monster Goliath, was the same guy who wore the ape/robot outfit as Ro-Man in that staple of Bad Movie shows Robot Monster (previously shown on The Texas 27 Film Vault).    

* Cameron “Close the F****ing Door” Mitchell, veteran of High Chaparral, The Andersonville Trial and countless bad movies, starred as Joey Matthews, the circus’ barker.   Continue reading

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